MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough spins Lindsey Graham’s federal abortion ban as a “compromise”

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough suggested that Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) proposed federal abortion ban is the “middle ground of the abortion debate” and “where most Americans are.”

Despite Republicans’ insistence that Roe v. Wade was overturned so that states could write their own abortion legislation, Graham introduced a bill that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy. On Morning Joe, Scarborough downplayed the severity of the proposed restriction, claiming that it would be “where most Americans are if you look at polling,” and that it’s in line with European abortion laws. 

Scarborough suggested that this bill should be accepted as a compromise even though it is still a violation of bodily autonomy. This statement also glosses over the difficulties of traditional polling on abortion; more comprehensive polling shows people say the decision should stay with the person having the abortion, their doctor, and the medical community, rather than politicians. Restricting abortion access has disastrous consequences, and suggesting that the bill is a compromise is disingenuous.

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Citation From the September 14, 2022, edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe 

JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): This 15-week ban, if it were — it sounds a lot like Mississippi, the Mississippi law that Chief Justice Roberts wanted the court to move to instead of a complete overthrow of Roe. But this 15-week ban, with exceptions for rape and incest and the life of the mother, that's where most Americans are if you look at polling. That fits mostly — if there is a middle ground of the abortion debate, this is where the middle ground is. It's where most European countries are.

Scarborough is also incorrect in his claim that this proposed ban, which would be similar to the Mississippi abortion ban at the center of the case that overturned Roe, would be in line with European abortion laws. As The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer explained:

Although many European countries have gestational limits that on paper resemble those in the Mississippi statute, and some have mandatory counseling and waiting periods, the exceptions that come into effect after that initial limit mean that women in Europe can still get abortions later than the limit if they wish to. That means the difference between European gestational limits and the Roe and Casey framework was less than it appeared to be. Moreover, the bureaucratic obstacles to getting an abortion in the first trimester in many states pre-Dobbs were far greater than in most of Europe as a result of anti-abortion legislation designed to circumvent Roe.

Regardless of public opinion, and their own previous statements, right-wing politicians will not be mollified by this ban. Perpetuating the narrative that Graham’s bill is merely satisfying both sides of the debate overlooks the measures the right will take to ban abortion in all cases.